Farmers in Tamil Nadu growing popular non-basmati rice 'Ponni' have protested vociferously over Malaysia being granted trademark rights for the rice variety.
One of the Malaysia's local trading firms has recently been granted trademark rights of 'Ponni' rice variety, reminiscent of the United States issuing patent on Basmati to RiceTec in 1997.
White 'Ponni' rice was developed by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in 1986 and is cultivated in thousands of acres of land in India.
'Ponni' is a hybrid variety of 'Taichung65 and Myang Ebos 6080/2'.
The farmers have expressed their displeasure over the alleged silence of the State and Central Governments on the issue and urged them to take action.
The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, which developed the rice variety over two decades ago, has started consultations with legal experts and concerned authorities to deal with the problem.
"The University has already started collecting information and we have requested the High Commissioner, Indian High Commission in Malaysia to get the requisite information. We are also consulting the Secretary to the Ministry of Commerce, on how to proceed, said C. Ramasamy, Vice Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.
"We are also identifying the trade lawyers dealing with property rights. In the days ahead we will be specifically drawing the action plan," he added.
On May 15, India authorized its Agriculture Export Promotion Agency to protect the country's farm and horticulture products from being patented by other countries.